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“I will not back down”

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–Snowe vows on Islamic bills

Bomi County Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe vows that he will not back down on his pursuit for the legislation of Islamic holidays in Liberia having introduced bills to that effect, urging those he says are opposing these bills to call on their lawmakers to vote against them.

“I will not back down. I will not withdraw. I will stand for what I believe is right, based on our history, and the need for a wholesome functioning [Liberian] society, and One nation, under God with liberty and justice for all,” Mr. Snowe said.

In a WhatsApp message share with this paper, Mr. Snowe said he has read and listened to all the sensational print, social media and radio spins regarding his patriotic endeavor to make the nation more inclusive and [accommodating] of its diversity by introducing three, very important legislations that he is sponsoring on the floor of the Liberian Senate.

“However, as it stands, I will not, in good faith, withdraw these legislations. I will be on the floor of the Liberian Senate come Thursday, June 3rd, to ensure that these Bills are placed on the agenda and read on the floor of the Liberian Senate,” he said.

Snowe’s reaction came days after this paper reported that the Bomi County Senator narrowly left the country for Nigeria after he submitted three controversial religious bills before the Liberian Senate for passage.

This paper reported that on Tuesday, 25 May, the agenda of the Liberian Senate carried the three controversial bills seeking legislations of two Islamic holidays as national holidays in Liberia, which includes the end of Ramadan and Abraham Day. Additionally, Snowe also submitted a bill before the Senate seeking the legislation of Easter Monday as a national holiday in Liberia.

Snowe’s submission of the three legislations comes on the heels of a sustained campaign by some members of the Christian faith to declare Liberia a Christian nation based on a recommendation from a 2015 constitutional review committee.

Christianity is by far the most common faith in Liberia, with recent surveys showing Christians making up 83-86% of the population, up significantly from surveys in the 1980s. By contrast, Islam has declined slightly from 14-15% in the 1980s to 11-12% in recent surveys.

However, in recent years, Muslims in Liberia have also been advocating for the legislation of Eid al-Adha (Abraham’s Day) and Eid al-Fitr (End of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Festival of Breaking Fast) as national holidays.

In 2020, a group under the banner, the Movement for Islamic Holidays in Liberia called on the Liberian Legislature to pass into law two major Islamic festivals – Eid al-Fitr, known as Ramadan Day and Eid al-Adha also called Abraham day as national holidays.

But many have been questioning Snowe here about the motive behind his planned legislation. Though Snowe is a Christian, he however represents a county which is predominantly Muslim, having left Montserrado County District #6 which he first represented at the House of Representatives twice before moving on to Represent Bomi in the Senate.

His proposed Acts before the Liberian Senate include an Act Making Easter Monday a public holiday; an Act Making Eid al-Adha (Abraham’s Day) a public holiday; and an Act Making Eid al-Fitr (End of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Festival of Breaking Fast) a public holiday. But Snowe contended that the introduction of these Bills is not intended to bring him into conflict or seek favor from any particular segment of the Liberian society.

Instead, he noted that it is based on his patriotic conviction and responsibility as a Senator for all his people, based on his keen reading of Liberian history, including the proximate causes of the nation’s recent baseless prolonged civil conflict.

“Might don’t make right”. All is in time. May the Almighty God, may the Almighty Allah continue to bless us all and save the state,” Snowe continued.

He argued that he represents the majority as well as the minority, adding that the introduction of these Bills represent first, his belief in equality and religious freedom as guaranteed by Liberia’s Constitution and the laws of the country.

According to him, it is based on his belief and considered learning that God is a God of justice and fair play, adding that consistent with the principles of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Liberian Constitution, those opposing these Bills have the right to call on their lawmakers to vote against them. By Winston W. Parley

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